DOJ Case Against Arpaio Could Be Impacted By New Revelations

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 4:16pm
Updated: Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 11:48pm
(KJZZ file photo)
Sheriff Joe Arpaio

New questions about whether Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies had a practice of stealing from immigrants and revelations that the sheriff’s office failed to share evidence is now impacting a U.S. Department of Justice racial profiling lawsuit against the sheriff.

Last year, as the result of a separate lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow found the sheriff’s office racially profiled against Latino drivers. Snow then appointed a court-appointed monitor.

In recent months, new evidence has come to light that deputies in the sheriff’s Human Smuggling Unit hoarded ID cards, driver's licenses, purses and licenses plates without following normal protocols for handling evidence.

That’s raised questions about whether deputies were shaking down immigrants. Snow found MCSO’s own internal investigation to be inadequate and on Tuesday he filed an order giving the monitor broader authority to investigate these internal cases.

In response to that order, lawyers for the sheriff on Thursday filed documents related to its internal investigation to the court under seal.

A discovery in May that one deputy was hoarding recordings of hundreds of traffic stops in his garage revealed it was common for sheriff's deputies to record their activities. Yet plaintiffs in both cases say they did not receive all of the relevant video they should have during the discovery phase of litigation.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice are arguing these revelations impact their lawsuit against the sheriff, which accuses the sheriff's office of discriminating against Latinos during operations and in its jails.

In a brief filed on Wednesday, DOJ lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver for permission to conduct additional depositions, as well as to request additional documents and video recordings from the sheriff’s office. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the sheriff's office never shared deputies' video footage in either case during the discovery phase of litigation, when in fact the sheriff's office shared some videos with the U.S. Department of Justice during discovery.

UPDATED 9:57 p.m.